Spokesman: Gov. Haslam never received raccoon petition - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Spokesman: Gov. Haslam never received raccoon petition from 'Coonrippy'

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Mark "Coonrippy" Brown and his pet raccoon, Rebekah Mark "Coonrippy" Brown and his pet raccoon, Rebekah
NASHVILLE (News Sentinel) -

A spokesman says Gov. Bill Haslam never received a petition seeking return of a pet raccoon to Mark "Coonrippy" Brown, but his staffers did talk with the Gallatin, TN, man who has since declared himself a Republican candidate for governor.

In declaring his candidacy against Haslam in the August GOP primary, Brown, 55, told the Gallatin News Examiner that Haslam had "ignored the cries from the entire United States" asking for the raccoon named Rebekah to be returned to him by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.

He said a letter to TWRA officials seeking a permit went unanswered and a petition to Haslam with more than 60,000 signatures was returned unopened. TWRA seized the raccoon last year, citing state law that generally prohibits individuals from owning wildlife, after Brown had achieved Internet renown with videos showing him dancing and showering with the raccoon. He has also appeared on national TV shows.

David Smith, the governor's press secretary, said the petition was never received, but "we've spoken with him and his wife previously" in following up on email messages Brown sent to the governor's office.

Read more from our news partners at the Knoxville News Sentinel.

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